Expert Recommendation

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Best Nikon Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $3000
By Fotoguy
Expert (27 Recommendations and 7 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
March 20, 2009 Updated: March 24, 2009
Overview

The Nikon D700 is a full-frame, 12.1 megapixel DSLR that has the durability, features and image quality one would expect of a professional level camera. Essentially, it is a D3 scaled down to the size and weight of a D300 with a proportionally scaled down price, but at almost $3000 US, it is by no means cheap.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D700 (Body Only)

For a long time, Nikon lacked a niche camera to fill that very large gap between the small and affordable DX models like the D300, and the massive, very expensive, professional DSLR that only a few could buy. With the introduction of the Nikon D700, there is now a choice. And it’s an excellent one.

Taking parts and technology directly from the D3, Nikon has succeeded in producing a small, light, durable, full-frame professional level camera that you don’t have to take out a second on your home to purchase. The 12.1 megapixel (effective) CMOS image sensor, EXPEED image processor, Multi-CAM3500FX Auto Focus sensor, and 3 inch, 922,000 dot TFT LCD come unchanged from the D3 along with most (but not all) of its settings and features. Additionally, there are a few new additions to the D700 that the D3 doesn’t have, most notable being vibration image sensor cleaning and a pop-up flash.

What didn’t make it into the D700 were necessary not only as much for cost saving as to fit everything into the much smaller body. For example, the D3’s integrated battery grip is gone. (However, one is available for the D700 as a detachable accessory.) Instead of the 300,000 actuation shutter, the D700 sports a vertical travel, carbon fiber/Kevlar composite, 150,000 actuation one. And due to the smaller body, the 100% coverage D3 viewfinder has been replaced by slightly smaller 95% one. There’s only one CF card slot instead of two. The Status LCD on the back of the D3 is gone. Not enough room. And the max frame rate has been reduced to 5 from the D3’s 9 fps. All told, very little has been lost from a real world photography standpoint.

Yes, it has all the neat, high-end hardware, but what kind of pictures does it take? In a word: Exceptional! Even up to an ISO 12800, which is remarkably good considering. (There’s even a 25600, if you need it, but quality is only marginally good and very noisy.) At speeds below 1600, images are clean and virtually noise free. At 1600 up to 6400, the D700 produces sharp, detailed images with low, film grain-like noise that are in a class by themselves. And if your shooting tends toward marginally lit environments, you won’t find a camera at this price that can better it.

So, if you’re looking for that next step up in digital, or a full-frame body that’s compatible with most all Nikkor lenses, manual or AF, going back 30+ years to the AI, or if you’ve just been waiting around for a digital camera that can replace that old Nikon F your grandad gave you, then the Nikon D700 is the camera.

Pros
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    12.1 MP (effective) full-frame CMOS sensor
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    EXPEED image processor
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    14-bit A/D conversion
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    Active D-Lighting
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    Image vignetting correction
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    Built-in image sensor cleaning (vibration)
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    3" Hi-res 922,000 dot TFT LCD
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    Build quality
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    Weather sealed
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    Weight
  • +
    Size
Cons
  • -
    Price
  • -
    Poor auto white balance under artificial light
Nikon D700 (Body Only) is the Best Nikon Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $3000
Where to buy
Nikon D700 (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $2199
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Resolution: 12.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Nikon D700 (Body Only)
2
Nikon D3 (Body Only)
Customer Rating
Price $2199.00
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Sensor Type
CMOS CMOS
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Sensor Size
36.0 x 23.9 mm 36.0 x 23.9 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
12.1 megapixels 12.1 megapixels
Viewfinder Type Optical Pentaprism Optical Pentaprism
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in.
LCD Screen Resolution 922000 dots 922000 dots
Weight (without batteries) 35.0 oz (995 g) 43.6 oz (1240 g)
Weight (with batteries) 37.8 oz (1075 g) 50.0 oz (1420 g)
Size (W x H x D) 5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 in. 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in.
Anti-Dust Technology Low-pass Filter Vibration None
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 5.1 frames/sec 9.0 frames/sec
2
Nikon D3 (Body Only)

The Nikon D3 is only shown for comparison purposes, and not as an alternative to the D700, since it and the D3 have so much hardware in common and produce images of virtually equal quality.

Nikon D3 (Body Only) is one of the Best Nikon Digital SLR Cameras Overall Under $3000
Where to buy
Nikon D3 (Body Only)
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com

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